6 things to know when washing throw pillows

As a child, I always wondered why I couldn’t lie on the couch in front of the TV, eat my lunch and dinner; all at one convenient place. It sounds strange, but on lazy Sundays it made perfect sense to maximize the time spend watching Dexter and Dee Dee. Until one day, when the chicken curry got away from me and subsequently retired my sister’s favorite silk Damask pillows. Apparently, the cover up job I did by vigorously rubbing soap, water and nail polish remover over and over again took out the pillows along with my TV privileges for a month.


Throw pillow, couch pillow, accent pillow, decorative pillow or sofa cushion are different names of the same comfy, stylish, support that brightens up living spaces. Whatever you call them, proper care and washing for throw pillows can save you time, effort and even reduce waste. There are a few factors which determine how you should care for your pillows including the fabric, the manufacturing and your own use.


Here are 6 things to keep in mind if you’d like to maintain that fresh and beautiful look for your throw pillows:


  1. How to clean couch pillows without removable covers?


Since you can’t really machine wash throw pillows with a fixed cover. The best way is to maintain with handwash and perform spot or dry cleaning for stubborn stains. Personally, I go for removable cover options. Mainly due to the convenience of washing the covers when needed without having to worry about the insert’s integrity. Usually machine-washing throw pillows with cover and insert is not recommended. So, when thinking about how to clean couch pillows without removable covers, there are three ways to go about it:


  1. Hand washing:

Can you wash sofa pillows without discrimination? Not really. For pillows with a fixed cover, hand wash is by far the safest option to clean on a regular basis. However, this only applies to covers made from cotton, polyester, and linen. Use option b or c for other materials for removing stains.

  1. Spot cleaning:

This works for materials like leather or you can use this technique to spot-test in case you’re unsure of the fabric. After preparing the detergent to be used, test the cleaning agent by applying it on a small blank spot to check if there is a reaction. If not, you can continue to spot clean this fabric.

  1. Dry Cleaning:

This is the safest bet with throw pillows that have a non-removable silk, velvet or wool cover. However, if you want to avoid a substantial bill and the trip to the cleaners try out some of these neat tricks to get stains out.


  1. Checking the quality of pillow cover fabric that you buy


As seen with the directions on how to clean couch pillows without removable covers above. There are various types of fabric for removable pillow covers that that you can decorate with. By using easily available purchase guides you can take your pick when it comes to the cuts of fabric.


Generally speaking, sturdy and firm materials like upholstery or light upholstery give you a cover isn’t too thin and sloppy. You can machine wash throw pillows made from these materials. To be on the safe side, wash on a delicate cycle with detergent for delicate fabrics.


With Ontario, Canada sending 500,000 tonnes of clothing and textile waste to the landfill every year. Social enterprises are recycling this material to reduce landfill waste. Upholstery is one of the materials often recycled and made into pillow covers.


  1. What goes in the dryer and what doesn’t?


If you’re like me, you’ve probably seen the results of what the dryer can do to fabrics that aren’t supposed to go in there. Along with using cold water to keep the colors fresh on your decorative pillows. Machine wash your throw pillows but check the label or google if you can chuck your pillow covers in the dryer. In case the covers aren’t dryer safe, then remove the pillows as soon as the machine cycle is done and hang to dry in a well-ventilated area.


  1. Frequency of washing and replacing your pillows


I have been told that, waiting until the pillow shoots off dust as you hit them is probably not the best way to know when to wash your pillow covers. However, I’m not the only one; a friend recently asked me “can decorative pillows be washed?”.


On the same note, there is the wear and tear factor that kicks in if you wash them too often. Washing the covers every three to four weeks, depending on how much the area is used, will ensure hygiene. Replacement time depends on how well the pillows are maintained. It can be anywhere from 6 months to 3 years. Keeping your current throw pillows fresh, also contributes to cutting down textile waste.


  1. What to do with spills and stains


If a drop of ketchup or coffee makes its way to your beautiful couch pillow, the key is to deal with it early on (and not with nail polish remover). It’s worth it to try, instead of throwing it in the laundry. That way you can make sure the stain doesn’t dry and set, making it much harder to remove. But remember to spot test to make sure there isn’t any color coming off.


Firstly, check the label for instructions and type of fabric that you’re dealing with. Usually it’s advisable to blot and soak with warm/cold water and avoid rubbing. Also, check out this guide on removing 13 different kinds of stains for more specialized methods. For spills you might need to use a full-on wash after soaking.


  1. What about the pillow inserts?


Usually you’ll find pillow inserts in four different forms: down, foam, cotton and synthetic. Synthetic polyester and down feather are the most commonly used. There are various opinions on whether you should wash your inserts and fluff them later to avoid clumping. However, spot cleaning the insert with the occasional machine wash can extend the lifecycle and keep the feathers inside them from leaking out. Check out these guidelines on how to machine wash throw pillows and spot clean when needed.


Caring for your throw pillows can be easy with so many resources available to help you out. However, it’s always a good idea to ask questions like you’re buying for a longer period of time. By going with quality and sturdy materials you can maintain the décor and feel of your living room at your own pace. The type of fabric, form of manufacturing and the required maintenance; all plays into the ease with which you maintain a vibrant space.

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